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The United States will authorize, from “early November”, entry into its territory to travelers vaccinated against Covid-19 from the European Union and the United Kingdom, lifting restrictions put in place in March 2020. The “Travel ban” would then have remained in force for nearly 20 months.
The United States will lift “at the beginning of November”, for those vaccinated, the restrictions which weighed since March 2020 on international travel, and whose maintenance annoyed many of their partners, the Europeans in the lead.
In eighteen months, the “Travel ban” has caused countless painful personal and family situations, now separated by hundreds of thousands of people.
In addition to showing proof of vaccination against Covid-19, travelers will have to be tested within three days before their trip to the United States, and wear a mask, the pandemic coordinator told the White House Jeff Zients at a press conference call outlining the new protocol.
A traveler tracking system will be set up by the airlines, which will have to collect the information enabling them to be contacted.
The announcement comes at the right time in a context of great tension between France and the United States over a sale of submarines, but Jeff Zients, without commenting on a possible diplomatic aim, insisted that the decision itself was “dictated by science”.
>> To read: Submarines: France’s risky bet against the United States
Washington is lifting restrictions that since March 2020 concerned travelers from the European Union, the United Kingdom or China, and then applying later to India or Brazil.
But the White House did not immediately specify which vaccines would allow entry on American soil. This is far from being a detail: many Britons and Europeans have received the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not recognized in the United States where only those of Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen ).
The Chinese have developed their own serum, as have the Russians.
Restrictions that lasted some twenty months
The White House wanted, according to Jeff Zients, to set up a coherent global system based on “individuals” and not on differences in treatment depending on the country of origin.
While President Donald Trump initially closed the borders for thirty days, the restrictions will therefore have lasted a total of some twenty months. To the chagrin in particular of European countries, which have reopened their borders to vaccinated Americans and who were annoyed at this lack of reciprocity.
Germany and the United Kingdom very quickly welcomed the American decision on Monday.
“Great news – for German and European investments, our exports and the entire transatlantic relationship,” said Olaf Scholz, German vice-chancellor and finance minister, on Twitter.
“Great news for travelers from the UK to the US,” said British Foreign Minister Liz Truss on Twitter. “This is important for our economic recovery, our families and our trade.”
The decision, which will allow a family reunion and that many Internet users demanded under the slogan #LoveIsNotTourism (“Love is not tourism”) has also delighted the airlines.
The association of European airlines Airlines for Europe tweeted its satisfaction, saying “applaud” an announcement which “will give a much needed boost to transatlantic travel.”
Jeff Zients also clarified that unvaccinated Americans who return to the United States after a stay abroad would be subject to even stricter testing obligations. They will be asked to be tested during the day before their return, and not within three days, and to be tested again after their arrival on American soil.
The White House has toughened its tone in recent weeks in the face of resistance against vaccination in the country and multiplied the announcements to impose it where the federal authorities have the means, or at least to strongly encourage it. However, it has not yet taken one of the most drastic decisions in its power, namely to impose vaccination on domestic flights in the United States.
The lifting of restrictions announced on Monday also does not apply to the United States’ land borders with Canada and Mexico, which remain closed to “non-essential” travel except for US citizens.
These restrictions, extended month by month, will be in effect at least until October 21, Zients said.